Our society tends to equate the notion of fairness with that of justice; treating them as though they are interchangeable concepts. While this may be true if their definitions are carefully and clearly asserted, in practice, they most often do not mean the same thing. In fact, they usually express opposing ideas. One is objective, the other subjective. One deals with universal principles that apply equally to all societies and which do not change with time; the other deals with popular sentiment and is subject to change between societies and times. One is subject to reasoned correction; the other is subject to emotional manipulation. One is a foundational principle of liberty; the other is an enemy of liberty.
Justice is the impartial application of the law as derived from the principles of Natural Law. It is rooted in universal principles that apply to all people, everywhere and at all times. These principles do not change with societies or time. They are founded upon the first principle that the individual owns his own will. Justice recognizes the equal claim every individual has in this first principle and in the rest of their Natural Rights. It protects the individual from encroachment upon these individual rights so that the individual can be secure enough to exercise liberty. Should someone encroach on the rights of another, justice provides a means of restraining that encroachment and making restitution when necessary. And, should a law be made that violates the principles of Natural Law, justice provides a path of reasoned correction to put the law back in harmony with those principles.
On the other hand, fairness is a biased assertion of individual opinion. It is rooted in assumptions that change with societies and over time. These assumptions are not fixed; they change frequently, even within a given society. They are founded primarily on the notion of what ought to be as opposed to what is. Fairness subjugates the rights of the individual to the enforcement of these notions of how things should be. Fairness provides no protections to the individual, nor does it provide for a reasoned path of correction. In fact, fairness admits to the ‘right’ to make law as necessary to further the purpose of whatever it is believed should be as opposed to what is.
EXAMPLE: justice upholds Natural Law whereas fairness most often undermines it. The battle between a free market and Marxism is the perfect example. The free market (not Capitalism) is the Natural Order of economic exchange among free men. Marxism is the subversion of this Natural Order in order to establish the Marxist ideal of how men should conduct their business. The free market is based on the objective principle of merit in which justice seeks to insure a level playing field where every individual can compete without having their Natural Rights encroached upon by others. Marxism is based on the subjective notion that fairness requires all people to be equal in material terms, in which case, justice is perverted to the enforcement of whatever is thought necessary to enforce material equality. The proof that the free market is the Natural Order came during the Communist Revolution in Russia, where the Communists were forced to return to free market principles to keep the nation from starving. Justice seeks to protect the individual; fairness seeks to enforce an idea. As such, they are not equal, they are opposites.